Yoga studios in Amsterdam offer a lot of different yoga styles. To discover the origin of all these styles of Yoga, we need to take a look at the past. Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. And, although different styles of Yoga already existed also back then, these different forms were mainly focussed on either the body (Hatha), the mind (Jnana), the heart (Bhakti) or a combination of all these paths (Raja). The vast amount of different physical styles of Yoga was not yet so cultivated as it is today.
Over the last 150 years, Yoga made its way from India into the rest of the world. To make Yoga easier to access for Western people, the physical aspect of Yoga (Hatha Yoga) was the main aspect that was adapted. In the West, we are schooled differently than in India. Our world view today is based on a scientific and objective way of reviewing the world. That is why, for us, entering a subjective practice like Yoga is easier through something relatable like the body. From this starting point, slowly we can start to experience the deeper, holistic benefits Yoga has to offer.
How did so many styles of Yoga came into existence?
There is a vast amount of different people in the world, all with different constitutions and preferences. To make the practice of Yoga more accessible for a wider audience, there was a need for different, more specific branches. That is why certain aspects of Hatha Yoga were split off into different styles of Yoga. For instance, to satisfy people with active minds, the flow aspect of Hatha Yoga was adapted into different Vinyasa Flow and Power Yoga classes. For the more introspective types of people, Yin Yoga was distilled from the Restorative aspect of Hatha Yoga.
It is good to realize we all need different styles at different times in our lives. The one day, Vinyasa Yoga serves us and the other day Yin Yoga will help us enormously. This only shows the wide range the whole teaching of Hatha Yoga encompasses. All these paths are as beautiful and important as the other. They can all equally serve as a path towards the realization of Yoga. We can choose one path and stick to it religiously, or combine different styles in our practice next to each other. Both can learn and teach us a lot. There is no right or wrong in this matter.
What is Iyengar Yoga?
We, as LiveYoga Amsterdam, started out with being purely an Iyengar Yoga Studio. B.K.S Iyengar was a Hatha Yoga teacher from India who, in particular, emphasized the importance of aligning the body properly in poses (asanas). To do so, he invented the use of Yoga props to help students align in poses that, otherwise, their body could not perform. During his 60 years of teaching Yoga, he developed a methodical system in which his teaching was preserved. This is what is called Iyengar Yoga today. Iyengar self did not agree with that name by the way. He claimed that he simply was teaching Hatha Yoga like it was described in the ancient scriptures.
What styles of Yoga do we teach at LiveYoga Amsterdam?
We recognize that different students are served with different styles and not just Iyengar Yoga. Even students that love the style of Iyengar, are sometimes served by a different approach. Because we do not want to be dogmatic, we move with the changes of the time while also maintaining true to the core principles that Iyengar shared with us. Just like Yoga teaches us, the inner core is unchanging but the outer layers change constantly. We honour that cosmic dance between the permanent and the transient and try to keep it alive.
Because of this, our schedule has changed accordingly while staying grounded in our core principles. You will see that nowadays, next to Iyengar Yoga, we offer Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra, Pilates, Iyengar Flow, Restorative Yoga, Sun Salutations, Meditation and different kinds of Breathing classes. Still, in all our classes, you will find that inner and outer alignment is a very important part of our teachings. The wisdom Iyengar shared with us during his life is still very much alive, even years after he left his body.